Why We Need to Commit

November 24, 2007

commitment_photo1.jpgCamilla Cavendish wrote a thoughtful piece for the The London Times on November 22, 2007. She doesn’t discuss commitment to conservation of nature, but rather to the preservation of marriage.

I happened upon it about the same time I was reading in The Case for Marriage (by Waite and Gallagher)

. . . commitment produces contentment; uncertainty creates agony. Some couples undoubtedly move toward the closure of divorce simply to escape the emotional hell of perpetual ambivalence. (p. 182)

In a more spiritual context, Doug Goins’ message at Peninsula Bible Church supports the importance of commitment from Chapter 7 of 1 Corinthians. (I used to visit that church in California in the ‘60’s)

It seems to me that a follower of Proverbs 16:3 (“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed”) ought also to commit to the mate that the Lord provides. It is in our commitment to the Lord that the vow, “as long as you both shall live” makes sense.

camilla_cavendish_220531a.jpgNow back to Ms. Cavendish’s article which I have copied in it’s entirety below:

Why we all need to commit: My attitude to marriage is changing. My middle-class reluctance to judge others is fading.

My friend Ann and her girlfriend are having IVF in New York. My friend Hatty is “basting” every month in London with a gay male friend who has offered to help her have the baby she longs for. My mate Shona shacked up with her boyfriend the day she met him, and was pregnant after two months. They all ask: do you think I’m doing the right thing?

What can I say? Except that it’s pure luck that I ended up with a nice bloke, two children and a ring on my finger, and I could never judge any of these three for finding their own way to make a family. They are educated, they are solvent, they are mature, they have inner resources that will make them great parents.

So when the BBC recently asked me to make a radio programme about the return of marriage to the centre of political debate, I assumed I’d be taking a pretty liberal line. Experts of all political stripes are agreed that stability is hugely important for children. But stability, I figured, surely came in all shapes and sizes.

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Christmas 2007 — Our Thanksgiving Tradition

November 24, 2007

blog-pic-b-2007.jpgEvery year we spend the day after Thanksgiving transforming the end of our living room into a manger scene. It turns out different every year, but it always serves the same purpose — to get our eyes, minds and hearts focused on the birth of our Lord, Jesus.

blog-pic-a.jpgIt starts off with tables and boxes and ends up with a 14×10-foot display of various worshipers surrounding the manger. Like the way it was, some seem more aware of the significance of the event and the Person than others.

The 12-inch figures are Italian, made by Fontanini. We like them and have been adding a little each year for the past 15 years or so. Unfortunately, Fontanini make only limited pieces, so we try to improvise from wherever we can find something that fits. Our three children join us in an all-day event with each one contributing his or her specialty.

blog-piper-2007.jpgFinally, we enjoy staring at it, imagining what it might have been like 2,000 years ago. And we enjoy inviting guests to do the same as they come for an evening visit. This year, my thoughts keep coming back to the idea of the incarnation as the inordinate condescension in which God became flesh and the Son interrupted his peace and glory with the Father to come live with us in order that we might know Him. I want to experience more of an appreciation for the transformation He has made in my life and consequently express an even deeper thankfulness for making the way to God available to me.

Running the Race

November 24, 2007

turkey-trot-three.jpgI ran a race, an 8-mile (10k) race, last Thursday. Over 30,000 others also ran in the 40th anniversary of the Dallas YMCA Turkey Trot. Thanks to my friend, Al, (on the right) I was able to finish. He was in better shape than I, and was able to keep a nice steady pace. I was breathing hard after two miles and just kept pushing while Al just kept cruising. He was very gracious and hung back so we could finish together.  My son, Christopher, was wise.  He watched the race with his new dog, Gorby.  I learned a lot from training for this physical race that also applies to running the spiritual race.

1. Every pound I lost in training (and I took off 25 of them) was a pound I didn’t have to lug around with me and a pound that my heart did not have to support with blood and oxygen. Hebrews 12:1 admonishes: “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles . . .” Sin, like fat, adds weight so fast and takes so long to overcome that it doesn’t seem right. When it comes to sweets and carbohydrates, I can resist anything but temptation! I resent having to say “no” to pleasurable things. When I’m overeating, like sinning, I’m not thinking of the consequences, but rather the immediate pleasure. My long term goal is to lose another 25 pounds over the next year, about 2 pounds a month. I’m not sure that will be very easy, but it will help to think of them as 25 pounds that hinder.

2. A group of high school girls from Plano took a detour through MacDonald’s, complaining that it was too cold and they were tired. Another lesson comes out of the next part of Hebrews 12:1: “. . . and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” It was tempting to cross over a short connecting strip to join the faster runners coming back, thus eliminating a couple miles of the course, or maybe following the girls in for an egg MacMuffin and a Coke. Sometimes fatigue and pain mean to stop and rest, but other times (and this was one of them), the thing to do is to push through it. That’s where Al really helped me keep the pace through my puffing.

3. When I kept my focus on the road ahead, even the uphill part, I was able to lean into it and persevere. When I fixed my mind on the finish line, I was better able to push on. Hebrews 12:2 advises, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus . . .” which is a discipline in itself with so many things to distract. It was easy to fix my eyes on Al because he was always just a little ahead of me and would slow down every once in a while so we could stay together. Hearing him cheer me on, reminding me that I was doing well and could do it, helped me “not grow weary and lose heart.”

4. Hebrews 12:7 reminds us to “endure hardship as a discipline.” I learned that to discipline your body for a race requires regular daily and weekly routine over months of time. Some folks who prepare for only a week or two before the race, usually pull muscles, develop shin splints or toss their breakfast along side the road. Regular, daily routine integrated with a lifestyle regimen is the way to do it. Long term, lifestyle, routine. Al and I are going to start next month to train for a marathon race in December 2008.

5. A race like the Turkey Trot requires focus. Participation cannot be aimless and at the same time satisfying. Paul must have been thinking of this idea when he said, “I do not run like a man running aimlessly; . . . I beat my body and make it my slave so that . . . I myself will not be disqualified for the prize” (1 Corinthians 9:26-27). And what prize: to be able to finish well, with honor. Many others finished ahead of me; many behind me. But I finished in the best time I could manage.

Now I understand a little more about why the biblical writers use the metaphor of a race to describe the life of spiritual discipline and focus. May I do better at both in the future.

Christian Sex Therapy and Marriage Counseling

November 12, 2007

lorraine-turbyfill-250.jpgI have the privilege of supervising seven interns this year.  Each of them has completed a master’s degree in counseling and is working toward completing 3,000 hours of supervised counseling.  Working with them every week leads me to say the the future of counseling is in good hands around here.  I am so delighted with their professional abilities and personal integrity that I want to highlight each one of them individually.The first is Lorraine Turbyfill.  [edited comment April 2011 — for quite some time now, Lorraine has been a Certified Sex Therapist.  No longer an intern with me, I turn to her for perspective as a trusted colleague]

What does a Christian sex therapist do? For one thing, she puts all the nitty gritty stuff into a grand overarching perspective of divine design. Please refer to an interesting article from Christianity Today for more. Specifically, Lorraine treats problems like low sexual desire, arousal difficulties, problems with orgasm, and pain.Beyond these specifics, Lorraine is also trained to deal with depression, anxiety, grief and loss, identity and personal growth.In other words, she covers the general field that most counselors deal with plus the specialty of sexual problems.

What training is required for Lorraine?She completed her M.Ed. degree from the University of North Texas in Denton and her post graduate studies in Christian Sex Therapy through the Institute for Sexual Wholeness at the Psychological Studies Institute in Atlanta.She keeps current with active memberships in professional organizations like the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC), Christian Association for Psychological Studies (CAPS), and the American Board of Christian Sex Therapists (ABCST Intern).She has had experience in both inpatient and outpatient treatment settings.

If you would like to contact Lorraine, her phone number is (214) 587-8321.  She works out of her office in Grapevine:
1000 Texan Trail, Suite 205, Grapevine, TX 76051

Click here for her web site.

With resources like Lorraine offers, these are good times to have problems.